If a high-priced ELT system doesn’t get you rescued maybe a signaling strobe light will, and that’s just one purpose of the Bush Pilot SOS flashlight from pilot supplier Flight Outfitters.
If you’re like us, the last thing you might need is another flashlight, but the Bush Pilot SOS got our attention. It’s more than a typical flashlight, but is it really worth $89.95? We reeled one in to take a skeptical look and were impressed.
SERIOUS BUILD QUALITY
The light is made of anodized aircraft-grade aluminum and measures 6.75 inches. The diameter of the head is 1.6 inches and the barrel is 1.3 inches. It weighs 0.5 pounds. That all makes it easy to stash the light in a map pocket and a flight bag, plus it has a steel clip for keeping it in place. It comes with a lanyard, plus the tail end is magnetic, which turned out to be helpful for preflighting and for working in the engine bay. We’ve lost count of the times a maintenance light dropped deep into the cowling, but this one stays in place. It has a grip and anti-roll ring to keep it from rolling off the cowling or wing, and the body has enough ribs and notches so it doesn’t slip out of the hand.
The light runs on a lithium-ion rechargeable battery (you can buy a multi-pack for under $10) and the company said it’s good for roughly 500 charge cycles. The built-in, full-sized USB port (which is hidden under the threaded anti-roll ring) is used for charging the battery (it takes 6.5 hours from empty), plus it’s used to provide output voltage for charging portable devices on the fly. The 1-amp (2600 mAh) power bank is designed to charge smartphones, action cams and other small devices, but it won’t charge tablet computers. We plugged it into a spent iPhone and while it topped it off, it wasn’t exactly fast. There’s a power bank status annunciator.
As a flashlight, this thing works well. It has a convex lens, a 4x zoom beam and a total of five light modes that are controlled with what the company calls the Smart Select Dial. This is on the tail of the light and you simply turn the dial to line up the arrow with the desired light mode. Performance is impressive.
The Strobe mode throws 1000 lumens (120 meters) and the battery endurance is 2.5 hours. The High mode (steady beam) is also 1000 lumens (and has a 120-meter beam throw) and it will run for 2.5 hours. In the 500-lumen Medium setting, the light runs for 4.5 hours and shines 85 meters, while the 100-lumen Low mode will keep running for 13 hours and shines 40 meters.
There’s also the Stealth mode with a 120-hour runtime. This secondary light is on the tail of the device and provides useful lighting in a dark cockpit while preserving night vision. We had no problem reading printed checklists.
You can change from spotlight to floodlight with an adjustable zoom control on the head of the light. There’s also an orange ring below the head that illuminates each of the modes by brightness, or it flashes when you’re in the Strobe mode.
At $89.95, the light isn’t cheap as flashlights are concerned, but we think it offers enough utility for serving a wide variety of lighting tasks. The power bank is a bonus and the light is certainly rugged.
We continue to be impressed with the quality of Flight Outfitters products, its attention to detail and good customer service.